Subject: On America at War: From the Center for the
Advanced Study of American Institutions and Social Movements, Grenoble,
30 June 2003
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
We have received two articles forwarded to us from our research associates,
Professors James Stevenson (Georgia) and Ed Herman (Pennsylvania). The
first, a "New York Times" article by Edmund Andrews which Professor
Stevenson sent, raises the question of growing resistance in Iraq during the
military occupation by British and American troops.
The second article was sent to us by Professor Herman, after it was
published in "Z Magazine." (Please see http://www.zmag.org) It calls
attention to new illegalities and deceptions that are being employed in
order to sustain American military control of Iraq. Several parallels with
the history of German fascism are made explicit in this disturbing article.
The question Professor Herman has raised is : "Is America heading toward a
totalitarian state, where policies are bases on lies rather than open public
As usual, we invite readers to send us comments on these important sources
of information and interpertation on contemporary American studies.
From The New York Times
copyright June 28, 2003
Americans and British seen as foeIn Iraq, a perception of allies as
By Edmund L. Andrews
BAGHDAD: After an optimistic start to the occupation of Iraq, U.S. and
British forces are unexpectedly finding themselves the brunt of criticism
for everything that goes wrong these days.
"We are furious about people pointing guns at us," said Hamid Hussein,
pushing his broken-down Volkswagen bus to the front door of his house
Saturday morning. A U.S. Army Humvee was parked in the middle of his
street, and a soldier in the turret ordered Hussein in English to stop where
If the complaint was not about security, then it was about the lack
electricity last week in Baghdad.
"The Americans are in charge of everything here," snapped Ibrahim Aullaiwi,
46, a shop owner in the poor neighborhood of New Baghdad. "They could have
brought generators in here within 24 hours."
Like Aullaiwi, many residents of Baghdad seem to ignore the fact that
electricity disruption was caused at least in part by sabotage and looting.
Seething in heat of 43 degrees centigrade (110 degrees Fahrenheit) without
air-conditioners, fans or refrigerators, many residents were already furious
about chronic power failures over the past two months.
Whether battling saboteurs or snipers, U.S. and British occupation leaders
find that the public mood has turned critical, even though countless Iraqis
remain pleased that Saddam Hussein is gone and still place considerable
hope in the Americans and British to improve things.
An angry crowd in the southern town of Majar al Kabir killed six British
soldiers last Tuesday; many residents contended that the British set off the
disturbance by trying to search Muslim homes.
American soldiers sometimes infuriate Iraqis by running afoul of tradition.
On Thursday, soldiers on patrol in an army convoy in Baghdad heard gunshots
from a house and rushed into it from all sides. It turned out there was a
wedding party under way, a ceremony that often occurs on Thursday evenings
and is celebrated with gunfire.
The Americans added to anger among the revelers by roughly grabbing
arresting a young man who was trying to sneak off in a taxi with his gun,
according to a witness.
When thousands of U.S. troops raided what they believed were bases for
loyalists to Saddam this month, provoking a lengthy firefight that killed
four Iraqis, the Shiite newspaper Al Dawa described the deaths as "martyrdom."
The tensions seem certain to increase. Attacks on U.S. soldiers, though
do not endanger the overall military plan, have continued steadily for three
On Saturday in Baquba, about 95 kilometers (60 miles) northeast of Baghdad,
an unidentified person threw a grenade at U.S. soldiers in a Humvee. The
grenade missed the soldiers but wounded two Iraqis who happened to be
The scene made for grisly images on Saturday on Al Jazeera television:
bloodied Iraqis at the sides of American soldiers.
Late Friday night, a grenade attack in the Baghdad district of Thawra
one U.S. soldier dead, four soldiers wounded and one Iraqi interpreter wounded.
Those were merely the most recent deadly incidents in a week that included
sniper attacks on individual soldiers, bombs placed under trucks and
rocket-propelled grenades fired at Humvees.
American military commanders have greatly stepped up the pace of
house-to-house sweeps, in which hundreds of soldiers temporarily close off
neighborhoods and then search each house for weapons or any hints of loyalty
One problem facing both British and U.S. officials is their limited
to communicate through mass media. The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional
Authority inaugurated radio and television broadcasts last month, but the
television broadcasts are only shown a few hours a night and mostly are
devoted to reruns of Arab-language entertainment shows.
Meanwhile, Iraqis listen to television broadcasts from the Iranian network
Al Alam, which is overwhelmingly critical of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Television sets here can receive Al Alam with the help of a large antenna.
For the growing number of Iraqis with satellite dishes, the most influential
source of news may be Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network based in Qatar. Al
Jazeera has been critical of the allied forces and has assiduously and
quickly reported attacks on American soldiers.
Meanwhile, Iraq has seen a flood of new newspapers. While some are balanced,
and one or two are pro-American, many are plainly hostile.
An article on the front page of Al Haqiqa, one of several Shiite newspapers,
reported that "unemployment and the chaos of security are the root causes of
Iraqis clashing with Americans."
And in a separate front-page headline, the newspaper quoted a prominent
Shiite leader as saying, "No dialogue with the occupier."
From Ed Herman,
copyright ZNet Commentary
June 26, 2003
Uncle Chutzpah, On A Rampage, Has "Momentum,"
By Edward Herman
After Munich and the German takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939,
Hitler seemed a prospective winner, and this helped him make political gains
at the expense of frightened neighboring countries whose leaders didn't want
to offend him. He had "momentum," based on his military power, diplomatic
and military successes, and the failure of the international community to
put up any resistance to his blatant aggression. This failure was the
classic case of "appeasement."
But the Iraq invasion and occupation has established a new standard
aggression and its appeasement by the international community. Bush
administration officials announced long in advance that they intended to
attack and occupy Iraq in violation of the UN Charter, and after a brief and
unsuccessful attempt to obtain UN Security Council cover for this
aggression, the United States and Britain attacked and conquered the small
and virtually disarmed victim without having obtained such sanction.
While there were appeals to Kofi Annan and the UN to do something in
to halt this openly announced plan to commit aggression, nothing of a
preventive nature was even proposed in the UN by its leaders or member
states. The UN and member states even helped the aggressors by accepting the
U.S. and British claims that Iraq's possession of weapons of mass
destruction (WMD) and alleged foot-dragging in disarming in accord with UN
Security Council resolutions was serious business indeed.
The hypocrisy arising from the fact of U.S.-British support for Saddam's
acquisition and use of WMD in the 1980s, and the regular U.S. support of
Israel's refusal to abide by UN Security Council rulings, was ignored. So a
new more rigorous inspections regime was installed to check out Iraq's
compliance. With the UN inspectors failing to find WMD and calling for more
time-and only dimly recognizing that they were instruments in a charade that
would be scrapped if they failed to come up with the right answer-the two
aggressors, with their coerced and purchased "coalition," did in fact scrap
the legal niceties and attacked.
With this open aggression under way the UN and international community
did nothing. No threats, no sanctions-nothing. In fact, before the
aggression was even completed the issue became "how much role will the UN be
allowed to play in the occupation and rebuilding of the victim country."
There was no question of depriving the aggressors of the right to dominate
the conquered country.
As the occupation and pacification of Iraq advanced, it became compellingly
evident that the Bush administration and Blair had lied about Iraq's
possession of WMD and that their aggression and conquest was built on
disinformation. It is also on the record that they used cluster bombs on
civilians sites and were lavish in shooting at targets that "might" have
been threatening, killing more than 5,000 civilians and a score of thousand
Iraqi soldiers, while losing fewer than 200 of their own personnel.
It also turns out that once again, as in Serbia and Afghanistan, the
military deliberately targeted and killed journalists not under their direct
control, a further violation of international law. The U.S. military also
failed to protect from looters Iraq's great National Museum and library, and
all civilian ministries except those concerned with oil and internal
security, despite repeated warnings of the looting threat, again in
violation of rules-of-war obligations of an occupying authority.
This finding that the war was based on a Big Lie, and that the aggressors
had committed further war crimes beyond the basic one of aggression, had
absolutely no effect on the UN's or international community's toleration of
the invasion/occupation and willingness to allow the criminals to reap the
fruits of that aggression.
In startling contrast with the treatment of the U.S.-British aggression,
when Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1979, responding to genuine attacks on
Vietnam border regions by Pol Pot, the United States declared this to be
outrageous: an invasion and occupation was unjustified and illegal no matter
how serious the provocations. And the UN and international community
severely penalized Vietnam and of course refused to recognize the new
government of Cambodia installed by the aggressor. Similarly, Iraq's
invasion of Kuwait in 1990 was also completely intolerable, justifying a
strong UN response and a U.S.-British (and an earlier bullied and purchased
"coalition") military assault to forcibly remove the aggressor. The UN, U.S.
and international community certainly can't tolerate sanctioning
aggression-otherwise the aggressor will come to believe that aggression
Uncle Chutzpah and his cheerleaders have been thrilled by the fact that
won big over the demon, and the public has also been duly impressed with the
power of Chutzpah's arms. The overwhelming imbalance in military resources
of the "allies" and the virtually disarmed demon made no impression on the
mainstream; in the world of games, and with juveniles, victory is victory,
even one by a super-goliath over a one-armed pygmy. Actually, Vietnam's
defeat of Pol Pot was more impressive, as the imbalance of forces, while
substantial, was by no means as great as that in the Iraq invasion. But poor
Vietnam was a U.S. target, not a client, and its quick ouster of Pol Pot was
not seen as a brilliant triumph and constructive action but punishable
Uncle and his allies, having failed to uncover the WMD, soon retreated
the claim that they were bringing "freedom" to the tyrannized Iraq
population. It is unbelievable, however, that the welfare of Iraq's people
was even a minimal factor in the "allied" assault. As noted, the U.S.
Republican administration, and the British as well, supported Saddam in the
1980s, and British commentators have recently called attention to the fact
that in 2001 Blair's Foreign Minister Jack Straw rejected an Iraqi's
petition for asylum on the ground that "he could expect to receive a fair
trial under an independent and properly constituted judiciary" in Saddam's
There is also the fact that in the writings of the Bush administration
leadership, in their years out of office, it was geopolitics and control of
Middle East oil that bulked large in their explanations of why Saddam must
be ousted, not liberty.
Of course it might be true that even if liberty wasn't a Bush-Blair
might be a spinoff effect of other objectives. But this is also extremely
unlikely if the aim is control of Middle East oil and the maintenance of a
"stability" in which Uncle Chutzpah rules. Uncle has already announced that
state enterprises are to be privatized and that the oil industry will be in
the forefront of this process, to be accomplished before the Iraqis
liberated from Saddam are liberated from Uncle. This will require a puppet
government and refusal to allow the Shiite majority to rule, or anybody else
who will not be amenable.
The United States has a long history of installing and protecting puppets,
as with Diem in Vietnam, Trujillo and Balaguer in the Dominican Republic,
Somoza in Nicaragua, Mobutu in Zaire, the Shah in Iran, the late Zoran
Djindjic and his successors in Serbia, and Karzai in Afghanistan. The Bush
leadership is surely planning to do the same in Iraq, and so far the UN and
international community have done nothing to interfere.
It should also be noted that when Vietnam ousted Pol Pot in 1979, it
a government that the world was then proclaiming to be the epitome of evil.
Vietnam's sponsored regime that followed was much more benign. But its
ousting of an evil government did not alter the international community's
response to the invasion. An invasion is an unqualified evil, unless done by
Uncle or one of his clients (e.g., Israel's repeated assaults on Lebanon).
The great victory over Iraq has given Bush "momentum" (Financial Times),
just as Munich and Czechoslovakia gave Hitler momentum in the late 1930s.
This is because in the face of the determined exercise of great power the
world's leaders and establishment pundits and moralists feel obliged to be
"realistic" and adjust to the world as it is; whereas a Vietnam ousting Pol
Pot not only doesn't get "momentum," it gets retribution from the
international community. We can extend the old La Fontaine aphorism that
"The opinion of the biggest is always the best" to "The opinion of the
biggest on who is an aggressor and who is merely bringing civilized values
to the barbarians is always best."
With this momentum the Bush administration, still struggling to digest
Iraq conquest, is once again threatening regime change in its other target
states. North Korea and Iran may be developing WMD, and Syria may be doing
something objectionable as well. Uncle Chutzpah may have the largest WMD
arsenal: he may be the only one who has used nuclear weapons and regularly
and credibly threatens their use; he may be refining them to make them more
"practical" in war-making; he may be openly threatening "preemptive" war
against any challenger, to be decided by himself, but the international
community still defers to him on the threats that must be confronted.
Obviously, Chutzpah isn't a threat, on the reality principle of who
the most military power and is therefore judge and jury; clients like
Britain and Israel are no threat; but Iran and North Korea are threats and
must be dealt with before they obtain weapons that might enable them to
defend themselves-oops!, I mean attack their neighbors as they are likely to
do as axis of evil members! The international community as a Pooh Bah
collective genuflects to this threat agenda, and rushes to help prevent
these evil countries from obtaining the weapons reserved for Uncle Chutzpah
and his clients.
People on the left should confront this outrageous and immoral "reality"
refuse to accept a murderous aggressor's right to attack and then to plunder
the victim of his aggression and to threaten others. Uncle and his poodle
should be ousted and forced to pay reparations to the victims, just as he
required Iraq to do for its depredations in Kuwait. This double standard is
Kafkaesqe and we should hammer home its grotesqueness and the underlying
immorality, and resist it or face the threat of more of the same to come.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Research Center Director <http://www.u-grenoble3.fr/ciesimsa>
and Professor of North American Studies